Sunday, June 12, 2011

traps, cats, or rats?

Touchdown in Haiti!

Flying over the clear, clear, green-blue water of the Caribbean was a breathtaking sight. We could see the dirt roads and windy dirty rivers, and high deep green hills forefronting rocky mountains. Mollye saw a sunken ship in the water. I was wishing my students could see this view- boats that looked like pirate ships sailing across this gorgeous water. We had less colorful traveling companions than the Miami flight (no cranky couple, but no Bernard to fist-bump), although interestingly I felt like most people on the plane with us were white Christians. Two huge mission groups and a few Haitians. The people here say this is really abnormal. I did feel much safer, to be honest (southern American mindset magnification #1).

Mollye and I knew two other girls would be traveling on this same flight and coming to Canaan to teach a reading program. We 'facebook stalked' them so we could pick them out the airport. Thankfully we were right and met who ended up being three girls from North Carolina. We all didn't know who was coming to pick us up in Haiti. Scary! Thankfully, a pastor from Canaan had actually been traveling in North Carolina two weeks ago and met one of the girls. She picked him out of the crowd of sweaty men trying to help us with our bags. He pulled around what I can describe like this: a truck body with a flat bed, solid siding for about two feet up, then metal-lattice sides (can't think of how else to say that). :) The people here call it "The White Machine". We piled our luggage in and sat on the elementary school-sized chairs they had put in for us, and got ready to see the city. We were told to "blend in" so I didn't take pictures on my camera, but worked hard at taking them with my mind. I think they'll last a while.

Here's some snapshots.

-ladies walking down the side of the road with boxes and baskets gracefully balanced on their head (I would later find out some walk to the top of the mountain to get to a spring, and carry their wet laundry and a stool back down the steeep mountain, balanced in this large basket on their head)

-a girl of about two, in a pink and white dress, beating on a large rock with a smaller rock to make homemade gravel- that's what a lot of the kids do and try to sell it

-people here work hard, but when they're not working, they sit around. just sit. no schedule. and they're not on time if they do make schedules (american mindset magnification #2) which drives us pretty crazy

-graffiti on the side of the road: "We NEED Help"

-some brokenness in the city but lots of restoration

-a man trying to pull a huge pot-belly pig by a rope around it's neck in the middle of town, and kicking it when it wouldn't move

I couldn't read what the dark eyes looking at me driving through town and entering this community were saying. Some smiled and waved, one flicked us off, and most seemed apathetic. When we pulled into Canaan, my feelings were mixed. I was excited to be here, yet I knew so little about this place. Would the kids be able to open up to me? Did they want to? These are things that will take some time, but after today I feel much better about settling in here.

In case you were wondering, yes, it is hot. We don't have a thermometer or cell phones and the internet only works for about two hours at night, so I'm lacking my usual info. But we can sure tell you how it feels. The people here walk around with rags to wipe their faces and necks. Mollye and I tore out pieces of construction paper to use for fans at church, 2 pieces each, folded, and when two small Haitian girls sitting beside us found out there were really 4 pieces, so we could each use one, their eyes lit up like they had just unwrapped a christmas present. I think we will be making some fans in our classes. :)

I woke up this morning to the singing of the girls' dorm beside mine. These people LOVE to sing. Their voices are beautiful and float through the air from 6 or 7 in the morning until 11 at night. The children also know many american pop songs (even Haiti has Bieber fever) and christian songs. They are not ashamed to lift their voices loudly with their whole heart. I love it.
The church service this morning contained singing of course and the sharing of scripture from Pastor Joel, and songs and scripture from another group working here. Several groups are going to be coming and going this summer, but it's kind of nice to be one the more "long-term" staff and get to work more behind the scenes.
We got to go to the beach today and the Caribbean felt as good as it looked from the plane. Canaan normally takes kids on Sunday afternoon to get away and to cool down. It was a good time to talk to the other mission group, hold the babies, talk with some high school girls, keep the 6 year old boys from trying to sneak-attack splash me, and hunt for crabs. They live a good and simple life. They are happy in small things. I've been quieter than usual today and yesterday, taking it all in. There's definitely much to see and learn in this place.

This has turned kinda lengthy and I still have to scoop water out of a bucket for my shower. And the "traps, cats, or rats?" option was given to us tonight for the dorm we're staying in... it's known for having tons of rats so we could get a cat, or traps, or rats. No rats have been sighted so far. Just lots of lizards and apparently, mosquitos. 79 bug bites later, Mollye and I have another lesson learned and are going to try to soak in bug spray right before bed. And tuck the princess canopy of a mosquito net into the mattress.

We also both read before bed with headlamps on, which we think makes us look really cool.

I'm going with the girls' voices still in my head, "and all will sing how great.... how great.... is our God"


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